Pan-African educator and community activist Dr. Umar Johnson is never one to be shy of controversy. The latest is over his thoughts on reparations.
Dr. Johnson is a doctor of clinical psychology and a certified school psychologist who specializes in working with the parents of African-American children who receive special education and/or are diagnosed with disruptive behavior disorders, according to his website.
During a recent interview, a clip of which has gone viral on Twitter, Johnson breaks down why he doesn’t feel Blacks are yet ready for reparations.
“If someone is mentally ill and is in mental hospital, and we give them a million dollars, does it reverse the illness? Does it do anything to treat the problems?” Johnson asks.
He continued, “So let’s take that it to if a community has no institutions, no way to track the money in their community and they own none of these institutions and you drop trillions of dollars into the community where none of the institutions that are going to take their money is owned by people who look like them.”
He added, “If we can not responsibly spend the money we already have, what makes you think giving you more is going to change your situation?
Johnson stressed that he is very much pro-reparations, but he does not feel the Black community is prepared for reparations.
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“What I don’t support is thirsty, opportunistic Negros who are pushing reparations externally before we have delivered reparations internally within ourselves,” Johnson explained.
Johnson doesn’t address the push Black Americans have made despite the odds of growing wealth on their own. While still far behind the home ownership rates of whites, 44 percent of Black Americans do own a home or invest in home ownership. Almost 50 of Black Americans have a life insurance policy. Yet there are obstacles that remain, such as only 30 percent of Black Americans have a college degree, and Black undergraduate enrollment has fallen in recent years, according to the National Student Clearinghouse.
And, only 30 percent of Black Americans own stocks. Most reparations advocates agree that if there was reparations, home ownership, life insurance policy coverage, investments in stocks, entrepreneurship, etc., could increase. This would allow the Black community to develop our own institutions can increase, building our own schools, like Johnson wants to build.
Black America spoke out against Johnson’s “cultural revolution requirement for reparations.”
“The recent statements made by Umar Johnson are not only reckless and irresponsible. The false notion that Blacks are profligate spenders that do not know how to manage money, are merely repeats of age old white supremacist tropes,” Nyhiem Way, founder of President/co-founder of United Sons & Daughters of Freedmen and Be The Power, told Moguldom Nation.
Way continued, “Umar’s claim that Black people need to do ‘inner reparations’ before we should receive actual reparations, is not only counterintuitive, but it is also counterproductive. Outdated Black liberation theology has no place in the modern day reparations movement which traces back to Callie House (1861 – 1928), not Pan-African ideology.”
“Umar Johnson need Black Americans to be perfect for reparations. I swear when it comes to us, we have to hear someone throwing road blocks for what we are owed. It’s ridiculous! Our ancestors died making this country wealthy. Umar where’s your family from?” asked Tyrone Hunt, who describes himself as of “Black American Freedmen Blood.”
Others pointed out that reparations would help level the playing field.
“No you start with Reparations and then allow the community to create their own because then they will have the funds to handle to root of the cause within our own community by our own people,” tweeted Dee Williams.
“I swear ya’ll act like people are running around with pockets full of money tricking it off on bullshit. Reparations would help a lot of folks get the assets to build wealth i.e. a small business land etc…” Twitter account Dat_ Brotha_Fred_Speaks posted.
Some questioned Dr. Johnson’s motives in downplaying the need for reparations.
“You would think he’d be pushing reparations harder since he’s always begging for money. Wouldn’t it make his movement a lot easier if Black Americans had generational wealth?” asked C.J.
Tia Cut the tweeted, “Imagine everybody held on to their donation money until they felt he was READY for a school.”
In a later post Tyrone Hunt insinuated that Johnson words were anti-Black.
“Anyone agreeing with Umar says. Your looking at your own selves as inferior people who are least intelligent to run finances. This shows how you were programmed by white supremacy,” he tweeted.
This isn’t the first time Johnson slammed the reparations movement. In September, he posted on Instagram, ““Yes, we should get reparations. Yes, we are entitled to reparations but we don’t need them. We (Black people) have a $2 trillion economy. Why do we need reparations?” he asked.
His social media rant continued, “Did you ask for reparations to buy that weave? Did you ask for reparations for that perm? Did you ask for reparations for that Louie bag? Did you ask for reparations for that Gucci bag? Did you ask for reparations to buy them Jordans? Did you ask for reparations for that big ol’ truck you got? Did you ask for reparations for the big house in the suburbs? Did you ask for reparations for you to put your Black kid in that white private school? Did you ask reparations for any of the Negro things you do on a daily basis?”
Dr. Umar Johnson (Photo: Twitter, @DrUmarJohnson)